PITTSBURGH — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went from woeful to winners in 10 days.
Mike Glennon hit a diving Vincent Jackson for a 5-yard touchdown with seven seconds remaining to lift Tampa Bay to a stunning 27-24 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
The Buccaneers (1-3) lost to Atlanta by six touchdowns a week ago but bounced back. Glennon passed for 302 yards in his first start of the season, including a 41-yard catch-and-run by Louis Murphy that set up Jackson’s score.
Ben Roethlisberger passed for 314 yards and three touchdowns, but Pittsburgh (2-2) couldn’t protect a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Antonio Brown caught seven passes for 131 yards and two scores, and Heath Miller added a career-high nine grabs with a touchdown. It wasn’t enough on a day the Steelers committed 13 penalties for 125 yards and let Tampa Bay hang around long enough to pull off the upset.
The teams combined for 22 penalties in an ugly game that featured little flow and plenty of missed opportunities, most of them by the Steelers.
Pittsburgh rallied from an early 10-point deficit and appeared to be in complete control at times, but they couldn’t shake the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay twice found itself down a touchdown in the second half. Both times, the Buccaneers, who needed two late scores against the Falcons to avoid the worst loss in franchise history, came through on the road.
A 3-yard touchdown run by Doug Martin tied the game at 17 in the third quarter. After Roethlisberger found Miller for a 5-yard touchdown to put Pittsburgh back in front, Tampa Bay kept coming against a Steelers defense that struggled to get to the quarterback even with the addition of linebacker James Harrison. The former Steeler returned to Pittsburgh after an 18-day retirement to help an injury-depleted defense.
Patrick Murray kicked a 27-yard field goal to get the Buccaneers within 24-20. The Steelers tried to go for the knockout punch but couldn’t deliver. Roethlisberger found Brown behind the coverage on a flea flicker, but the pass glanced off the Pro Bowler’s fingertips.
Tampa Bay responded by driving to the Steelers 14 only to stall. Glennon overthrew Jackson in the back of the end zone on fourth down with 1:53 to go.
Pittsburgh couldn’t muster a first down, giving the Buccaneers one last shot.
Taking over at the Steelers 46, Glennon hit Murphy in stride. He was finally pulled to the ground at the Pittsburgh 5. Jackson couldn’t haul in a pass on second down, but responded on the next play by stretching out in corner to give coach Lovie Smith his first victory with the team.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he believed Smith would embrace the challenge of getting his team ready after the Buccaneers were blown out by Atlanta.
Tomlin was right.
The Buccaneers needed less than five minutes to take a 10-0 lead. Tampa Bay defensive end Michael Johnson drilled Roethlisberger, forcing a fumble that teammate Jacquies Smith recovered. Two plays later Glennon hit wide receiver Mike Evans for a 7-yard touchdown pass, the 6-foot-5 rookie beautifully shielding Pittsburgh’s Cortez Allen from the ball while making the first scoring grab of his career.
A 25-yard punt return by Solomon Patton set up a 50-yard field goal by Murray and the Buccaneers appeared to be rolling.
Pittsburgh recovered to score 17 straight points, doing whatever it wanted when it managed to avoid penalty flags.
It didn’t last. Tampa Bay’s comeback ruined Pittsburgh’s chance to move to 3-1 for the first time since 2010, when the Steelers won the AFC championship.